UCT’s Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng has been condemned for a comment she made in response to a grade 11 student on social media. Phakeng had been interacting with prospective UCT students on her personal Instagram and in the process responded unfavourably to one student, causing a stir online.

Instagram user Leedlaminii enquired whether the chances for admission to UCT would be improved with good matric marks, even with suboptimal grade 11 results. The VC’s now-deleted response said, “My suggestion is that you to go another university that will accept your level of results. Don’t stress yourself.”

The comment sparked outrage in other users, who claimed this response was inappropriate and unnecessarily rude. Instagram user dalimaseko said: “In what world is this response appropriate? Many potential students only meet their provisional requirements later during their matric year – I don’t think you should be discouraging potential students so freely. This is just nasty and inaccurate.”

“UCT represents a way out of difficulty for many people AND a promise for a better future – just because you have made it doesn’t mean you should discourage others,” added dalimaseko.

A screenshot was posted to the Facebook group “Fees Must Fall -Western Cape”, who was disappointed with the comment made by Phakeng. Facebook user Lee-Roy Bosman Mojaji’s comment detailed how she got accepted to UCT and is now doing her Master’s degree, despite having bad grade 11 results.

“I doubt academic exclusion is based solely on your past performance,” she said.

In response to the negative feedback she received, Phakeng tweeted, “my response is clearly not appropriate for Grade 11 student. I give this response to those who didn’t do well in matric. In trying to assist matriculants I thought this was a grade 12 student. See my explanation on the DM screenshot.”

The screenshot shows a private message sent by the VC saying: “My general advice to parents and learners who got diploma passes is that its not the end of the world when a child can’t get into UCT, because there are many other options and like me people can become a success without a UCT degree. If one does not get accepted then they should not think its the end, they must explore other options”.

In another Tweet, Phakeng prompted readers to “never glorify any varsity”.

In the midst of the outrage, some social media users agreed with the comments made by VC Phakeng. Facebook user Yolokazi Siphenathi Mbuyisa said, “Is this not sound advice? If you have average marks in Grade 11, do yourself a favour and go to a less demanding university.”

“If you are already struggling with marks at grade 11, how much more AFTER you are accepted at UCT? Where straight A students also struggle? If anything, she is emphasising the importance of education more than the importance of the brand UCT. A qualification from another university is still a qualification,” added Mbuyisa.

Twitter user KerotseN said: “Some people are just extra! You gave sound, objective advice.”

Picture: Facebook / University of Cape Town

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